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Price rise for Warden Call scheme
HUNDREDS of vulnerable York residents could see the price they pay for a round-the-clock support service rise to help plug gaps in the city’s social care budget.
A consultation is to be launched on proposals for increasing charges for City of York Council’s Warden Call scheme, which provides a 24-hour monitoring and response service for about 3,150 people.
The authority currently charges a flat weekly rate of £4.25 but is now considering adopting a “two-tiered” payment system. If higher charges are agreed, they could boost the council’s income by £142,000 or £228,000 a year, depending on which proposal is introduced.
The council is facing a £2.2 million adult social care overspend for 2012/13, which had been as high as £3.8 million before cost-cutting measures were drawn up. Its cabinet member for health, housing and adult social services, Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, will next week be asked to approve the consultation.
Two charging proposals have been made – the first is to charge £5 a week for “tier one” – the standard Warden Call service – and £7 a week for “tier two”, which includes telecare equipment. The second would see a weekly charge of £7 for tier one and £10 for tier two, which a report by Warden Call officer Heather Barden and finance officer Steve Tait said would more closely mirror the council’s costs for providing the service.
The proposals also include making residents who lose their Warden Call pendants pay half the £70 cost of replacing them, rather than getting free replacements as at present. If the partner or spouse of a Warden Call customer also receives the service – which they currently get for free – they may be charged £3 or £5 a week, based on the level of care.
The report said the higher charging option would mean 1,050 people paying an extra £2.75 a week, while 350 others would see their weekly costs rise by £5.75, but 1,200 customers on benefits would not be affected by price changes. It said: “The charge has increased by only 35p in the last seven years and not increased at all in the last three years.
“In our communications with customers, we shall seek their views on all the proposals and, if they were introduced, how they may affect their use of the service.”